aA
aA
aA
aA
aA
aA
Of God and His Creatures
« Prev Chapter XCII. In what sense one is said to be… Next »

CHAPTER XCIIIn what sense one is said to be Fortunate, and how Man is aided by Higher Causes678678‘Fortunate,’ bene fortunatus, a literal rendering of εὐτυχής. The ‘higher causes’ here contemplated are the causes which exist above this sublunary world, namely, the heavenly bodies, the angels, and God. For the ‘heavenly bodies’ we may henceforth substitute the ‘forces of physical nature,’ the working of which was attributed in St Thomas’ day mainly to the action of the stars and spheres.

GOOD fortune is said to befall a man, when something good happens to him beyond his intention, as when one digging a field finds a treasure that he was not looking for. Now an agent may do something beyond his own intention, and yet not beyond the intention of some agent whom he is under: as if a master were to bid a servant to go to some place, to which he had sent another servant without the first servant knowing of it, the meeting with his fellow-servant would be beyond the intention of the servant sent, and yet not beyond the intention of the master sending: in reference to the servant it will be luck and chance, but not in reference to the master, — to him it is an arrangement. Since then man is subordinate in body to the forces of physical nature (corporibus coelestibus), subordinate in intellect to the angels, and subordinate in will to God, a thing may happen beside the intention of man, which is nevertheless according to the order of physical nature (corporum coelestium), or according to the arrangement of angels, or again of God. But though God alone works directly upon man’s choice, yet the action of an angel does something for that choice by way of persuasion, while the action of the heavenly body (of the forces of physical nature) does something by way of predisposition, inasmuch as the bodily impressions of the heavenly bodies (physical forces) upon our bodies predispose us to certain choices.679679The rays of that heavenly body the sun, for instance, striking and predisposing us to drink. When then under the impression of the physical forces of nature (coelestium corporum) one is swayed to certain choices that prove useful to him, though his own reason does not discern their utility; and simultaneously under the light shed on him by separately subsistent intelligences, his understanding is enlightened to do those acts, and his will is swayed by a divine act to choose that useful course, the utility whereof goes unperceived by him, — then he is said to be a ‘fortunate man.’680680Thus under stress of thirst, prompted by his angel guardian, and impelled by God, a man may turn out of his way for a glass of ale, and so escape a motor-car, which otherwise would have run him down.

But here a difference is to be noted. For the action of the angel and of the physical force (corporis coelestis) merely predisposes the man to choose, but the action of God accomplishes the choice. And since the predisposition that comes of the bodily affection, or of the persuasion of the understanding, does not induce necessity of choice, man does not always choose that which his guardian angel intends, nor that to which physical nature (corpus coeleste) inclines, but man always chooses that which God works in his will.681681Semper tamen hoc homo eligit, quod Deus operatur in ejus voluntate. See the opening words of Chap. LXXXIX, with note. It would be equally true to say, Semper hoc Deus operatur, quod homo eligit in sua voluntate. Hence the guardianship of the angels sometimes comes to nought, according to the text: We have tended Babylon, but she is not healed (Jerem. li, 9). And much more may physical inclination (inclinatio coelestium corporum) come to nought: but divine providence always holds firm.

It is further to be observed that good or ill fortune may befall a man as a matter of luck, so far as his intention goes, and so far as the working of the prime forces of nature (corpora coelestia) goes, and so far as the mind of the angels goes, but not in regard of God: for in reference to God nothing is by chance, nothing unforeseen, either in human life or anywhere else in creation.


« Prev Chapter XCII. In what sense one is said to be… Next »

Advertisements


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |