De providentia Dei
The Providence of God
Consideratis autem his quae ad voluntatem absolute pertinent, procedendum est ad ea quae respiciunt simul intellectum et voluntatem. Huiusmodi autem est providentia quidem respectu omnium; praedestinatio vero et reprobatio, et quae ad haec consequuntur, respectu hominum specialiter, in ordine ad aeternam salutem. Nam et post morales virtutes, in scientia morali, consideratur de prudentia, ad quam providentia pertinere videtur.
Having considered all that relates to the will absolutely, we must now proceed to those things which have relation to both the intellect and the will, namely providence, in respect to all created things; predestination and reprobation and all that is connected with these acts in respect especially of man as regards his eternal salvation. For in the science of morals, after the moral virtues themselves, comes the consideration of prudence, to which providence would seem to belong.
Circa providentiam autem Dei quaeruntur quatuor.
Concerning God’s providence there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum Deo conveniat providentia.
(1) Whether providence is suitably assigned to God?
Secundo, utrum omnia divinae providentiae subsint.
(2) Whether everything comes under divine providence?
Tertio, utrum divina providentia immediate sit de omnibus.
(3) Whether divine providence is immediately concerned with all things?
Quarto, utrum providentia divina imponat necessitatem rebus provisis.
(4) Whether divine providence imposes any necessity upon things foreseen?
Utrum providentia Deo conveniat
Whether providence can suitably be attributed to God?
Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod providentia Deo non conveniat. Providentia enim, secundum Tullium, est pars prudentiae. Prudentia autem, cum sit bene consiliativa, secundum Philosophum in VI Ethic., Deo competere non potest, qui nullum dubium habet, unde eum consiliari oporteat. Ergo providentia Deo non competit.
Objection 1: It seems that providence is not becoming to God. For providence, according to Tully (De Invent. ii), is a part of prudence. But since prudence, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 5, 9, 18), gives good counsel, it cannot belong to God, Who never has any doubt for which He should take counsel. Therefore providence cannot belong to God.
Praeterea, quidquid est in Deo, est aeternum. Sed providentia non est aliquid aeternum, est enim circa existentia, quae non sunt aeterna, secundum Damascenum. Ergo providentia non est in Deo.
Obj. 2: Further, whatever is in God, is eternal. But providence is not anything eternal, for it is concerned with existing things that are not eternal, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 29). Therefore there is no providence in God.
Praeterea, nullum compositum est in Deo. Sed providentia videtur esse aliquid compositum, quia includit in se voluntatem et intellectum. Ergo providentia non est in Deo.
Obj. 3: Further, there is nothing composite in God. But providence seems to be something composite, because it includes both the intellect and the will. Therefore providence is not in God.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Sap. XIV, tu autem, pater, gubernas omnia providentia.
On the contrary, It is said (Wis 14:3): But Thou, Father, governest all things by providence.
Respondeo dicendum quod necesse est ponere providentiam in Deo. Omne enim bonum quod est in rebus, a Deo creatum est, ut supra ostensum est. In rebus autem invenitur bonum, non solum quantum ad substantiam rerum, sed etiam quantum ad ordinem earum in finem, et praecipue in finem ultimum, qui est bonitas divina, ut supra habitum est. Hoc igitur bonum ordinis in rebus creatis existens, a Deo creatum est. Cum autem Deus sit causa rerum per suum intellectum, et sic cuiuslibet sui effectus oportet rationem in ipso praeexistere, ut ex superioribus patet; necesse est quod ratio ordinis rerum in finem in mente divina praeexistat.
I answer that, It is necessary to attribute providence to God. For all the good that is in created things has been created by God, as was shown above (Q. 6, A. 4). In created things good is found not only as regards their substance, but also as regards their order towards an end and especially their last end, which, as was said above, is the divine goodness (Q. 21, A. 4). This good of order existing in things created, is itself created by God. Since, however, God is the cause of things by His intellect, and thus it behooves that the type of every effect should pre-exist in Him, as is clear from what has gone before (Q. 19, A. 4), it is necessary that the type of the order of things towards their end should pre-exist in the divine mind.
Ratio autem ordinandorum in finem, proprie providentia est. Est enim principalis pars prudentiae, ad quam aliae duae partes ordinantur, scilicet memoria praeteritorum, et intelligentia praesentium; prout ex praeteritis memoratis, et praesentibus intellectis, coniectamus de futuris providendis. Prudentiae autem proprium est, secundum Philosophum in VI Ethic., ordinare alia in finem; sive respectu sui ipsius, sicut dicitur homo prudens, qui bene ordinat actus suos ad finem vitae suae; sive respectu aliorum sibi subiectorum in familia vel civitate vel regno, secundum quem modum dicitur Matt. XXIV, fidelis servus et prudens, quem constituit dominus super familiam suam. Secundum quem modum prudentia vel providentia Deo convenire potest, nam in ipso Deo nihil est in finem ordinabile, cum ipse sit finis ultimus. Ipsa igitur ratio ordinis rerum in finem, providentia in Deo nominatur. Unde Boetius, IV de Consol., dicit quod providentia est ipsa divina ratio in summo omnium principe constituta, quae cuncta disponit. Dispositio autem potest dici tam ratio ordinis rerum in finem, quam ratio ordinis partium in toto.
And the type of things ordered towards an end is, properly speaking, providence. For it is the chief part of prudence, to which two other parts are directed—namely, remembrance of the past, and understanding of the present; inasmuch as from the remembrance of what is past and the understanding of what is present, we gather how to provide for the future. Now it belongs to prudence, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 12), to direct other things towards an end whether in regard to oneself—as for instance, a man is said to be prudent, who orders well his acts towards the end of life—or in regard to others subject to him, in a family, city or kingdom; in which sense it is said (Matt 24:45), a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family. In this way prudence or providence may suitably be attributed to God. For in God Himself there can be nothing ordered towards an end, since He is the last end. This type of order in things towards an end is therefore in God called providence. Whence Boethius says (De Consol. iv, 6) that Providence is the divine type itself, seated in the Supreme Ruler; which disposeth all things: which disposition may refer either to the type of the order of things towards an end, or to the type of the order of parts in the whole.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod, secundum Philosophum in VI Ethic., prudentia proprie est praeceptiva eorum, de quibus eubulia recte consiliatur, et synesis recte iudicat. Unde, licet consiliari non competat Deo, secundum quod consilium est inquisitio de rebus dubiis; tamen praecipere de ordinandis in finem, quorum rectam rationem habet, competit Deo, secundum illud Psalmi, praeceptum posuit, et non praeteribit. Et secundum hoc competit Deo ratio prudentiae et providentiae. Quamvis etiam dici possit, quod ipsa ratio rerum agendarum consilium in Deo dicitur; non propter inquisitionem, sed propter certitudinem cognitionis, ad quam consiliantes inquirendo perveniunt. Unde dicitur Ephes. I, qui operatur omnia secundum consilium voluntatis suae.
Reply Obj. 1: According to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 9, 10), Prudence is what, strictly speaking, commands all that ‘ebulia’ has rightly counselled and ‘synesis’ rightly judged. Whence, though to take counsel may not be fitting to God, from the fact that counsel is an inquiry into matters that are doubtful, nevertheless to give a command as to the ordering of things towards an end, the right reason of which He possesses, does belong to God, according to Ps. 148:6: He hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away. In this manner both prudence and providence belong to God. Although at the same time it may be said that the very reason of things to be done is called counsel in God; not because of any inquiry necessitated, but from the certitude of the knowledge, to which those who take counsel come by inquiry. Whence it is said: Who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).
Ad secundum dicendum quod ad curam duo pertinent, scilicet ratio ordinis, quae dicitur providentia et dispositio; et executio ordinis, quae dicitur gubernatio. Quorum primum est aeternum, secundum temporale.
Reply Obj. 2: Two things pertain to the care of providence—namely, the reason of order, which is called providence and disposition; and the execution of order, which is termed government. Of these, the first is eternal, and the second is temporal.
Ad tertium dicendum quod providentia est in intellectu, sed praesupponit voluntatem finis, nullus enim praecipit de agendis propter finem, nisi velit finem. Unde et prudentia praesupponit virtutes morales, per quas appetitus se habet ad bonum, ut dicitur in VI Ethic. Et tamen si providentia ex aequali respiceret voluntatem et intellectum divinum, hoc esset absque detrimento divinae simplicitatis; cum voluntas et intellectus in Deo sint idem, ut supra dictum est.
Reply Obj. 3: Providence resides in the intellect; but presupposes the act of willing the end. Nobody gives a precept about things done for an end; unless he will that end. Hence prudence presupposes the moral virtues, by means of which the appetitive faculty is directed towards good, as the Philosopher says. Even if Providence has to do with the divine will and intellect equally, this would not affect the divine simplicity, since in God both the will and intellect are one and the same thing, as we have said above (Q. 19).
Utrum omnia sint subiecta divinae providentiae
Whether everything is subject to the providence of God?
Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod non omnia sint subiecta divinae providentiae. Nullum enim provisum est fortuitum. Si ergo omnia sunt provisa a Deo, nihil erit fortuitum, et sic perit casus et fortuna. Quod est contra communem opinionem.
Objection 1: It seems that everything is not subject to divine providence. For nothing foreseen can happen by chance. If then everything was foreseen by God, nothing would happen by chance. And thus hazard and luck would disappear; which is against common opinion.
Praeterea, omnis sapiens provisor excludit defectum et malum, quantum potest, ab his quorum curam gerit. Videmus autem multa mala in rebus esse. Aut igitur Deus non potest ea impedire, et sic non est omnipotens, aut non de omnibus curam habet.
Obj. 2: Further, a wise provider excludes any defect or evil, as far as he can, from those over whom he has a care. But we see many evils existing. Either, then, God cannot hinder these, and thus is not omnipotent; or else He does not have care for everything.
Praeterea, quae ex necessitate eveniunt, providentiam seu prudentiam non requirunt, unde, secundum Philosophum in VI Ethic., prudentia est recta ratio contingentium, de quibus est consilium et electio. Cum igitur multa in rebus ex necessitate eveniant, non omnia providentiae subduntur.
Obj. 3: Further, whatever happens of necessity does not require providence or prudence. Hence, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 5, 9, 10, 11): Prudence is the right reason of things contingent concerning which there is counsel and choice. Since, then, many things happen from necessity, everything cannot be subject to providence.
Praeterea, quicumque dimittitur sibi, non subest providentiae alicuius gubernantis. Sed homines sibi ipsis dimittuntur a Deo, secundum illud Eccli. XV, Deus ab initio constituit hominem, et reliquit eum in manu consilii sui; et specialiter mali, secundum illud, dimisit illos secundum desideria cordis eorum. Non igitur omnia divinae providentiae subsunt.
Obj. 4: Further, whatsoever is left to itself cannot be subject to the providence of a governor. But men are left to themselves by God in accordance with the words: God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel (Sir 15:14). And particularly in reference to the wicked: I let them go according to the desires of their heart (Ps 80:13). Everything, therefore, cannot be subject to divine providence.
Praeterea, Apostolus, I Cor. IX, dicit quod non est Deo cura de bobus, et eadem ratione, de aliis creaturis irrationalibus. Non igitur omnia subsunt divinae providentiae.
Obj. 5: Further, the Apostle says (1 Cor 9:9): God doth not care for oxen: and we may say the same of other irrational creatures. Thus everything cannot be under the care of divine providence.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Sap. VIII, de divina sapientia, quod attingit a fine usque ad finem fortiter, et disponit omnia suaviter.
On the contrary, It is said of Divine Wisdom: She reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly (Wis 8:1).
Respondeo dicendum quod quidam totaliter providentiam negaverunt, sicut Democritus et Epicurei, ponentes mundum factum esse casu. Quidam vero posuerunt incorruptibilia tantum providentiae subiacere; corruptibilia vero, non secundum individua, sed secundum species; sic enim incorruptibilia sunt. Ex quorum persona dicitur Iob XXII, nubes latibulum eius, et circa cardines caeli perambulat, neque nostra considerat. A corruptibilium autem generalitate excepit Rabbi Moyses homines, propter splendorem intellectus, quem participant, in aliis autem individuis corruptibilibus, aliorum opinionem est secutus.
I answer that, Certain persons totally denied the existence of providence, as Democritus and the Epicureans, maintaining that the world was made by chance. Others taught that incorruptible things only were subject to providence and corruptible things not in their individual selves, but only according to their species; for in this respect they are incorruptible. They are represented as saying (Job 22:14): The clouds are His covert; and He doth not consider our things; and He walketh about the poles of heaven. Rabbi Moses, however, excluded men from the generality of things corruptible, on account of the excellence of the intellect which they possess, but in reference to all else that suffers corruption he adhered to the opinion of the others.
Sed necesse est dicere omnia divinae providentiae subiacere, non in universali tantum, sed etiam in singulari. Quod sic patet. Cum enim omne agens agat propter finem, tantum se extendit ordinatio effectuum in finem, quantum se extendit causalitas primi agentis. Ex hoc enim contingit in operibus alicuius agentis aliquid provenire non ad finem ordinatum, quia effectus ille consequitur ex aliqua alia causa, praeter intentionem agentis. Causalitas autem Dei, qui est primum agens, se extendit usque ad omnia entia, non solum quantum ad principia speciei, sed etiam quantum ad individualia principia, non solum incorruptibilium, sed etiam corruptibilium. Unde necesse est omnia quae habent quocumque modo esse, ordinata esse a Deo in finem, secundum illud Apostoli, ad Rom. XIII, quae a Deo sunt, ordinata sunt. Cum ergo nihil aliud sit Dei providentia quam ratio ordinis rerum in finem, ut dictum est, necesse est omnia, inquantum participant esse, intantum subdi divinae providentiae.
We must say, however, that all things are subject to divine providence, not only in general, but even in their own individual selves. This is made evident thus. For since every agent acts for an end, the ordering of effects towards that end extends as far as the causality of the first agent extends. Whence it happens that in the effects of an agent something takes place which has no reference towards the end, because the effect comes from a cause other than, and outside the intention of the agent. But the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles; not only of things incorruptible, but also of things corruptible. Hence all things that exist in whatsoever manner are necessarily directed by God towards some end; as the Apostle says: Those things that are of God are well ordered (Rom 13:1). Since, therefore, as the providence of God is nothing less than the type of the order of things towards an end, as we have said, it necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence.
Similiter etiam supra ostensum est quod Deus omnia cognoscit, et universalia et particularia. Et cum cognitio eius comparetur ad res sicut cognitio artis ad artificiata, ut supra dictum est, necesse est quod omnia supponantur suo ordini, sicut omnia artificiata subduntur ordini artis.
It has also been shown (Q. 14, AA. 6, 11) that God knows all things, both universal and particular. And since His knowledge may be compared to the things themselves, as the knowledge of art to the objects of art, all things must of necessity come under His ordering; as all things wrought by art are subject to the ordering of that art.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod aliter est de causa universali, et de causa particulari. Ordinem enim causae particularis aliquid potest exire, non autem ordinem causae universalis. Non enim subducitur aliquid ab ordine causae particularis, nisi per aliquam aliam causam particularem impedientem, sicut lignum impeditur a combustione per actionem aquae. Unde, cum omnes causae particulares concludantur sub universali causa, impossibile est aliquem effectum ordinem causae universalis effugere. Inquantum igitur aliquis effectus ordinem alicuius causae particularis effugit, dicitur esse casuale vel fortuitum, respectu causae particularis, sed respectu causae universalis, a cuius ordine subtrahi non potest, dicitur esse provisum. Sicut et concursus duorum servorum, licet sit casualis quantum ad eos, est tamen provisus a domino, qui eos scienter sic ad unum locum mittit, ut unus de alio nesciat.
Reply Obj. 1: There is a difference between universal and particular causes. A thing can escape the order of a particular cause; but not the order of a universal cause. For nothing escapes the order of a particular cause, except through the intervention and hindrance of some other particular cause; as, for instance, wood may be prevented from burning, by the action of water. Since then, all particular causes are included under the universal cause, it could not be that any effect should take place outside the range of that universal cause. So far then as an effect escapes the order of a particular cause, it is said to be casual or fortuitous in respect to that cause; but if we regard the universal cause, outside whose range no effect can happen, it is said to be foreseen. Thus, for instance, the meeting of two servants, although to them it appears a chance circumstance, has been fully foreseen by their master, who has purposely sent them to meet at the one place, in such a way that the one knows not about the other.
Ad secundum dicendum quod aliter de eo est qui habet curam alicuius particularis, et de provisore universali. Quia provisor particularis excludit defectum ab eo quod eius curae subditur, quantum potest, sed provisor universalis permittit aliquem defectum in aliquo particulari accidere, ne impediatur bonum totius. Unde corruptiones et defectus in rebus naturalibus, dicuntur esse contra naturam particularem; sed tamen sunt de intentione naturae universalis, inquantum defectus unius cedit in bonum alterius, vel etiam totius universi; nam corruptio unius est generatio alterius, per quam species conservatur. Cum igitur Deus sit universalis provisor totius entis, ad ipsius providentiam pertinet ut permittat quosdam defectus esse in aliquibus particularibus rebus, ne impediatur bonum universi perfectum. Si enim omnia mala impedirentur, multa bona deessent universo, non enim esset vita leonis, si non esset occisio animalium; nec esset patientia martyrum, si non esset persecutio tyrannorum. Unde dicit Augustinus in Enchirid. Deus omnipotens nullo modo sineret malum aliquod esse in operibus suis, nisi usque adeo esset omnipotens et bonus, ut bene faceret etiam de malo. Ex his autem duabus rationibus quas nunc solvimus, videntur moti fuisse, qui divinae providentiae subtraxerunt corruptibilia, in quibus inveniuntur casualia et mala.
Reply Obj. 2: It is otherwise with one who has care of a particular thing, and one whose providence is universal, because a particular provider excludes all defects from what is subject to his care as far as he can; whereas, one who provides universally allows some little defect to remain, lest the good of the whole should be hindered. Hence, corruption and defects in natural things are said to be contrary to some particular nature; yet they are in keeping with the plan of universal nature; inasmuch as the defect in one thing yields to the good of another, or even to the universal good: for the corruption of one is the generation of another, and through this it is that a species is kept in existence. Since God, then, provides universally for all being, it belongs to His providence to permit certain defects in particular effects, that the perfect good of the universe may not be hindered, for if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe. A lion would cease to live, if there were no slaying of animals; and there would be no patience of martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecution. Thus Augustine says (Enchiridion 2): Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His works, unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil. It would appear that it was on account of these two arguments to which we have just replied, that some were persuaded to consider corruptible things—e.g., casual and evil things—as removed from the care of divine providence.
Ad tertium dicendum quod homo non est institutor naturae, sed utitur in operibus artis et virtutis, ad suum usum, rebus naturalibus. Unde providentia humana non se extendit ad necessaria, quae ex natura proveniunt. Ad quae tamen se extendit providentia Dei, qui est auctor naturae. Et ex hac ratione videntur moti fuisse, qui cursum rerum naturalium subtraxerunt divinae providentiae, attribuentes ipsum necessitati materiae; ut Democritus, et alii naturales antiqui.
Reply Obj. 3: Man is not the author of nature; but he uses natural things in applying art and virtue to his own use. Hence human providence does not reach to that which takes place in nature from necessity; but divine providence extends thus far, since God is the author of nature. Apparently it was this argument that moved those who withdrew the course of nature from the care of divine providence, attributing it rather to the necessity of matter, as Democritus, and others of the ancients.
Ad quartum dicendum quod in hoc quod dicitur Deum hominem sibi reliquisse, non excluditur homo a divina providentia, sed ostenditur quod non praefigitur ei virtus operativa determinata ad unum, sicut rebus naturalibus; quae aguntur tantum, quasi ab altero directae in finem, non autem seipsa agunt, quasi se dirigentia in finem, ut creaturae rationales per liberum arbitrium, quo consiliantur et eligunt. Unde signanter dicit, in manu consilii sui. Sed quia ipse actus liberi arbitrii reducitur in Deum sicut in causam, necesse est ut ea quae ex libero arbitrio fiunt, divinae providentiae subdantur, providentia enim hominis continetur sub providentia Dei, sicut causa particularis sub causa universali. Hominum autem iustorum quodam excellentiori modo Deus habet providentiam quam impiorum, inquantum non permittit contra eos evenire aliquid, quod finaliter impediat salutem eorum, nam diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum, ut dicitur Rom. VIII. Sed ex hoc ipso quod impios non retrahit a malo culpae, dicitur eos dimittere. Non tamen ita, quod totaliter ab eius providentia excludantur, alioquin in nihilum deciderent, nisi per eius providentiam conservarentur. Et ex hac ratione videtur motus fuisse Tullius, qui res humanas, de quibus consiliamur, divinae providentiae subtraxit.
Reply Obj. 4: When it is said that God left man to himself, this does not mean that man is exempt from divine providence; but merely that he has not a prefixed operating force determined to only the one effect; as in the case of natural things, which are only acted upon as though directed by another towards an end; and do not act of themselves, as if they directed themselves towards an end, like rational creatures, through the possession of free will, by which these are able to take counsel and make a choice. Hence it is significantly said: In the hand of his own counsel. But since the very act of free will is traced to God as to a cause, it necessarily follows that everything happening from the exercise of free will must be subject to divine providence. For human providence is included under the providence of God, as a particular under a universal cause. God, however, extends His providence over the just in a certain more excellent way than over the wicked; inasmuch as He prevents anything happening which would impede their final salvation. For to them that love God, all things work together unto good (Rom 8:28). But from the fact that He does not restrain the wicked from the evil of sin, He is said to abandon them: not that He altogether withdraws His providence from them; otherwise they would return to nothing, if they were not preserved in existence by His providence. This was the reason that had weight with Tully, who withdrew from the care of divine providence human affairs concerning which we take counsel.
Ad quintum dicendum quod, quia creatura rationalis habet per liberum arbitrium dominium sui actus, ut dictum est, speciali quodam modo subditur divinae providentiae; ut scilicet ei imputetur aliquid ad culpam vel ad meritum, et reddatur ei aliquid ut poena vel praemium. Et quantum ad hoc curam Dei Apostolus a bobus removet. Non tamen ita quod individua irrationalium creaturarum ad Dei providentiam non pertineant, ut Rabbi Moyses existimavit.
Reply Obj. 5: Since a rational creature has, through its free will, control over its actions, as was said above (Q. 19, A. 10), it is subject to divine providence in an especial manner, so that something is imputed to it as a fault, or as a merit; and there is given it accordingly something by way of punishment or reward. In this way, the Apostle withdraws oxen from the care of God: not, however, that individual irrational creatures escape the care of divine providence; as was the opinion of the Rabbi Moses.