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15. Ideas in God

1. An idea or concept is the mind's grasp of an essence. It is the understanding of what a definition means. Thus the idea human being is the mind's grasp of human being as such. It is the mind's grasp in one act of understanding of an essence that may be found in many individuals, and indeed is found in every man, woman, and child. Thus an idea or concept represents in universal an essence that may exist really in individuals. The idea or concept is called the species (or, more completely, the expressed intelligible species) in which things are understood. Now, since God perfectly understands all essences, we say that the ideas of all things are in God.

2. Yet the ideas of all things in God are not separate species in him; they do not bring complexity into the absolute simplicity of God. God's knowledge is not manifold in itself, but only in the creatural objects known. In knowing himself, God knows all things knowable, and hence God's essence is the single species in which he knows all things. This is what we must ever keep in mind as we use the imperfect human expression, "In God are the ideas of all things".

3. In so far as the divine ideas are concepts of things that can be created, they are called exemplars. In so far as these ideas are concepts of things simply knowable rather than creatable, they are called types or archetypes. Thus we say: in God are the exemplar-ideas and archetypal-ideas of all things.

"God speaks to us without ceasing by his good inspirations."
The Cure D'Ars

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."
St Philip Neri

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