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104. Special Effects of Divine Government

1. God creates things out of nothing. He must also preservethings created or they would fall back into nothingness.Preservation or conservation as it is often called, is afundamental effect of divine government. Now, things may bepreserved indirectly by putting them out of the way of danger; thusa mother preserves a precious vase by setting it out of reach ofher romping children. And things may be preserved directly bypositive conserving action; thus one who catches a fragile vase asit is falling preserves it directly. God preserves allthings directly. He also preserves some bodily things indirectly.Spirits need no indirect preserving, for nothing can threaten ordestroy them. The same divine power which gives existence tocreatures (their cause in fieri, their cause in becoming)is exercised to preserve creatures in existence (their cause inesse, their cause in being). Therefore it is justly said that"conservation is a continuous creation."

2. God preserves all creatures, as we have just seen, bypositive sustaining power; that is, God conserves all creaturesdirectly. But he does not conserve all things immediately,that is, without using any creatural means or medium. In some casesGod uses creatures to preserve creatures; thus by air, light,warmth, and the fruits of the earth, God sustains and preservesliving bodies. Yet God is himself present in andto these media.

3. God creates and preserves. The direct opposite ofcreation is annihilation. Conservation keeps creation from beingfollowed by annihilation, that is, complete reduction to nothing.God has the power to annihilate creatures. For he who has power toproduce by his free choice has ability to withdraw that power byfree choice. And if God were to withdraw his creative power fromcreatures, they would simply not exist; they would beannihilated.

4. But, as a fact, God does not annihilate anything. Increating, God establishes an order of things which manifests thedivine goodness; this order is maintained by preserving things, notby utterly destroying them. Divine wisdom would not be expressed increating a thing merely to annihilate it.

"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?"
Thomas á Kempis

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