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Of God and His Creatures
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CHAPTER XIIThat the Relations, predicated of God in regard to Creatures, are not really in God206206It is the general doctrine of the school, that while the relations of creatures to God are real (relationes reales), those of God to creatures are only conceptual (relationes rationis). The meaning is that any change wrought by divine action is in creatures, not in God

THESE relations cannot be in God as accidents in a subject, seeing that in God there is no accident (B. I, Chap XXIII). Nor again can they be in the very substance of God: for then the substance of God in its very essence would be referred to another; but what is referred to another for its very essence, in a manner depends on that other, as it can neither be nor be understood without it; but this would make the substance of God dependent on another being, foreign to itself.

2. God is the first measure of all beings (B. I, Chap. XXVIII). He is to them as the object is to our knowledge, that is to say, its measure. But though the object is spoken of in relation to the knowledge of it, nevertheless the relation really is not in the object known, but only in the knowledge of it. The object is said to be in relation, not because it is itself related, but because something else is related to it.

3. The aforesaid relations are predicated of God, not only in respect of things that actually are, but also in respect of things that potentially are, because of them also He has knowledge, and in respect of them He is called both first being and sovereign good. But what actually is bears no real relation to what is not actually but potentially. Now God is not otherwise related to things that actually are than to things that potentially are, because he is not changed by producing anything.207207   This doctrine is not devoid of difficulties.
   Love and hatred are certain relative affections.

   Can it be then that God has no more love for me, now that He has created me, than He would have had for me as a mere possible creature never to be realised? no more hatred of the sin that I have committed than of the sin that I might commit? Not so, for God loves more where He sees more of His own, and hates more that which is in greater opposition to Himself. There is more of God in an existing reality than in a possible one; and sin is in greater opposition to God for being actually committed. Hence greater love and greater hatred. Is not God then more closely related to actualities than to potentialities? But, St Thomas would contend, the relation, even though closer, still remains conceptual. God is not really affected by my existing, or by anything of my doing.

4. To whatsoever is added anything fresh, the thing receiving that addition must be changed, either essentially or accidentally. Now sundry fresh relations are predicated of God, as that He is lord or ruler of this thing newly come into being. If then any relation were predicated as really existing in God, it would follow that something fresh was added to God, and therefore that He had suffered some change, either essential or accidental, contrary to what was shown above (B. I, Chapp. XXIII, XXIV)208208From the following chapter (XIII) it appears that we not only know God in His relations to us of Creator, Lord, etc., relations which in Him are conceptual, not real; but also to some extent in His absolute attributes of omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, intelligence and will, attributes which are realities in God, and are by us imperfectly apprehended as such.


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