MT209-P02. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPBut perhaps some one will argue that we find some things necessary from the decrees of God and others for some other reason. For example, that Josiah should burn incense upon the altars of the idols of Jeroboam. For if we consider merely the will of Josiah, we will adjudge the thing to be merely possible; nor can it be said to have been necessary in any other sense than that the Prophet had commanded it as being the decree of God. But that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles is self-evident. It is only on account of man's ignorance that these distinctions are made. For if men clearly understood the whole order of Nature they would find all things as determined and as necessary as Mathematics. But as this is beyond human power we conceive some things to be merely possible, others necessary. Therefore, we must either say that God is powerless, since all things are determined, or that He is all powerful, and that all necessity rests upon the decrees of God.
All things are necessary in respect to the decrees of God; not some in themselves, and others in respect to these decrees.
MT209-P03. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPIf now, it is asked if God had created the world different from its present order, and what is now truth were error, would we still believe the same things to be true? We would if God left our nature as it is. But it would also be possible, if He wished to give us such a nature, as He has indeed done, for us to understand the nature and laws of things just as they are planned by God. Indeed, if we consider God's veracity He ought so to create us. This is also evident from what we have said above, namely, that Natura naturata must be considered as unitary. Whence it follows that man is a part of Nature, and ought to be in accord with the world about him. Therefore, from this simplicity of God's decrees it follows that if God had created things in some other way He would have so made us that we would understand them as they were created. So while we desire to retain this distinction which philosophers in general lay down, viz., the power of God, we are compelled to explain it differently.
If God had made Nature different, He would have given us other powers of understanding.
MT209-P05. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPGod's power is called absolute when we consider His ommpotence without regard to His decrees. We call it regulative when we have regard to His decrees.
What absolute, what regulative, what ordinary and what extraordinary.
We also say God's power is natural or supernatural. That is natural by which the world is preserved in its fixed order. That is called supernatural which causes something outside of the order of Nature, as for example, all miracles, such as various appearance of angels, etc. Concerning the latter point there is evidently some room for doubt. Still it would seem to be a greater miracle if God should always govern the world by the same fixed and unchanging laws, than if at times, on account of the foolishness of men, He should interrupt the laws and order of Nature which He from free choice has ordained. (This no one, except he be mentally blind, can deny.) But we leave this for theologians to discuss.
Finally, there are some other questions often asked concerning the power of God: For example, whether God's power extends to events already past; or whether He might not have created more objects than he did? We do not answer these, however, for their answer is easily seen from what has been said.