Of God and His Creatures

Yes, if the intelligence sees in the substance of God His decree for the creation of these and those individuals. But St Thomas makes a difficulty about the vision of the divine substance extending to a vision of the divine decrees: see Chap. LVI, n. 4, and the last words of this chapter. One of the Blessed can see me in God, if he can read in God the divine volition to create and conserve me in being. He cannot see me in the species 'man,' for I am not adequately there: my individualising accidents are not contained in the species. Even if they were, I should not be known as an existing, but only as a possible being. No knowledge of the specific type of Julius Caesar could tell you that a Julius Caesar ever actually lived and died. This cannot be denied except by one who is prepared to break down all distinction between the a priori scientific order and the a posteriori historical order of things, and to make all beings and events ultimately a priori, as part of the inevitable evolution of the Absolute. He who will go this length may march with Hegel, or, if he will, with Hobbes: but St Thomas, with Aristotle, distinguishes the contingent from the necessary. You cannot, no one possibly can, read the contingent in the necessary. But all individual existence, except that of God, is ultimately contingent; while the specific ratio is necessary. Cf. B. II, Chap. C.

Of God and His Creatures: 3.59