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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.

"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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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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"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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