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19. The Will of God

1. Where there is intellect there is will. Now, God is absolute intellect. Therefore God is absolute will.

2. God wills (or loves) himself, the infinite goodness. In willing himself, God wills things other than himself to which his infinite goodness freely extends; that is, God wills creatures. Creatures are partakers of the divine goodness; they tend to the infinite good as to their ultimate end or goal.

3. God wills himself of necessity. This is not saying that some force compels God to will or love himself. It is only saying that God is God; for God's will is identified with himself, and he himself is necessary being. God wills creatures freely, and not by necessity; for God has no need of creatures.

4. God's will is the cause of creatures. But nothing is the cause of God's will to create. It is a mistake to say that God's goodness moves God to create, for God's goodness is actually God himself.

5. We seek no cause for God's creating, for God is not subject to the action of causes. Nor does God first set up an end for creatures to attain, and then create means by which creatures may attain their end. If this were so the end would be a cause (final cause) for the creating of the means. End and means are all willed together in one eternal decree which is itself identified with God's essence.

6. God's will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled. No creature can thwart it. A free creature can hurt himself, but cannot defeat the will of God. For God wills right order; thus he wills retribution due to responsible free conduct. A saint in heaven and a sinner in hell both fulfill this will.

7. God's will is changeless, for it is actually one with his essence. But a changeless will can changelessly decree changeable things. God's changelessness does not impose limitation on God, nor does it impose necessity on free creatures or on contingently operating causes. God changelessly decrees that free creatures shall exercise free activity, and that contingent causes shall operate contingently.

8. God alone is the primary cause. Creatures are true causes of their activity and its product, but they are all secondary causes. God wills that secondary causes should act according to their nature, some by necessity, some contingently.

9. Evil is the lack or privation of good. Evil is not a thing or essence or nature in itself; it is the hurtful absence of a thing; it is the lack of what should be present. Being is necessarily good, for being and the good are really the same. Evil is, in itself, non-being. Hence evil cannot be willed for its own sake; the will chooses being or good. Only when evil is masked with the appearance of good (rather, only when some good is bound up with deficiency, lack, privation of good), can it be chosen or willed. God never wills evil directly. God accidentally wills physical evil (such as pain or hardship) inasmuch as he wills a good with which such hardship is bound up, and which can be attained only by the enduring of such hardship. God never wills moral evil, or sin, in any way whatever, directly or indirectly. Moral evil is against God, and God is not against Himself.

10. As regards creatures, God's will is absolutely free. Freedom is a perfection and God is all-perfect.

11. God's will is made manifest to free creatures by their reason and by revelation. For instance, the Ten Commandments are an expression of God's will which is manifested by revelation; the same Commandments are manifested by reason, for a studious man could think them out.

12. The expression of God's will comes to free creatures in a variety of forms: precept, prohibition, counsel, permission, operation.

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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