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21. The Mercy and Justice of God

1. Justice is the virtue which gives to every being all that belongs to it. There is a type of justice called commutative, which is the justice of give-and-take; it is exampled in a trade in which neither party cheats the other. There can be no commutative justice in God, for there is no exchange of goods between him and creatures; all good in creatures comes from God. There is another type of justice, called distributive, which consists in the bestowal of good according to the needs of the receiver. This type of justice is in God "who gives to all existing things whatever is proper to the condition of each one".

2. Sometimes God's justice is called truth inasmuch as it meets the known needs of creatures; for truth belongs to knowing.

3. In bestowing good on creatures, God manifests his goodness. In meeting the needs of creatures, he manifests his justice. In bestowing all that is useful, God manifests his liberality. And in giving what counteracts miseries and defects, God shows his mercy.

4. In all the works of God, justice and mercy are manifest. Justice and mercy are pure perfections; they are in God eminently as identified with his essence. In creating, God removes the misery of non-existence; this is mercy. In supplying all that his creatures require, God manifests justice. In making abundant supply of things required, God removes the misery of narrow circumstances; this again is mercy.

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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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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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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