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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.

"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"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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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
St Augustine

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